Easy Math – Can You Do It?

I love math, do not get me wrong. But, when it comes to the complex equations – throw in a little exponents, tangent, or square roots – I admittedly walk away. There are some neat math problems, however, like the Collatz conjecture. Feel free to try out that equation yourself and then wow your friends. It should keep you busy for a while trying to not get to “1”. All that being said, there is a math equation that we can use in our work and/or in life:

E + R = O

E means event / R means response / O means outcome. So how does it work and what does it mean?

In a nutshell, our response (R) to an event (E) – one you can’t change, determines the outcome (O). Simply put, if we change our responses to the event, we can get different outcomes. An example from work that you can use could be:

The COVID-19 pandemic + creating a virtual platform = more visibility and impact for you, your program, and Cooperative Extension


The COVID-19 pandemic + waiting to see what happens and halting programming = loss of partnerships, clientele, and funding reduced (harsh, I know, but it is an example!)

Whatever event that you use as your example, know that you can change your response or least learn from the outcome! It does not have to be like that forever. You and I have a choice to change our response(s) in the future. Where we are today personally and professionally is the outcome (O) of our responses (R) to events (E) along the way. We have also made changes because of previous and maybe habitual responses which is growth for us.

In Extension, we often do a needs assessment to determine what priorities the County needs to improve, then we align it with our program area. Once we have those needs, we typically respond to them by doing workshops or have a meeting and we receive outcomes from them. If we ignore the evaluation data or blame it on other things, that is all on us – our response drove that outcome. What we need to do is learn from the outcomes we receive and when necessary, change our response(s) to the events (communication, planning, understanding, blame, etc.). When that occurs, our outcomes begin to change into what we want them to be. We also grow personally.

You can apply this equation to a lot of conditions that you face daily. Your responses to someone delivering feedback, missing a deadline, stuck in traffic, are all things that YOU CONTROL which creates the outcome. Life is tough, but you can make it better through how you respond to it.


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Posted: August 26, 2022

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Tags: Communication, Leadership, Mental Health, Professional Development

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